The 2019 NHL Entry Draft will mark general manager Pierre Dorion’s fourth draft at the helm of the Ottawa Senators. Looking back over his picks, his record is pretty solid so far. He’s drafted 17 players, a number of which will be a large part of the Senators rebuild in the near future.
Related: Dorion’s Trade Deadline History
Dorion has shown that he’s not afraid to pull the trigger on deals, whether that means trading up or down in the draft. It’s well-known that the Senators don’t have the biggest scouting team, but what they’ve done over that past few drafts should help as the club looks to get back into contention. Here’s a look back at his picks so far.
2016: Dorion’s First Draft
Pre-Draft Trade Impact
Dorion went into the 2016 draft as a new general manager, after taking over for Bryan Murray. Murray had made one deal, though, that impacted what Dorion could do at the 2016 NHL Entry Draft – the Senators had traded Shane Prince and a 2016 seventh-round pick to the New York Islanders in exchange for a 2016 third-round pick, although that pick didn’t stay with the Senators for long.
2016 Draft Picks
Dorion showed in his first NHL draft that he wasn’t afraid to make a move. In fact, his first ever trade came on draft day when he traded the 12th and 80th picks to the New Jersey Devils in exchange for the 11th pick, which was used on centreman Logan Brown. Brown is currently coming off of a breakout rookie season with the Belleville Senators with 14 goals and 42 points in 56 games.
In the second round, Dorion selected Jonathan Dahlen, but he didn’t stay for very long in the Senators organization. Dahlen was sent to the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for Alex Burrows. Todd Burgess was selected in the fourth round – he’s yet to be signed by the Senators and is currently playing college hockey.
Dorion and the Senators picked Maxime Lajoie in the fifth round, which seems like a solid selection at this point. Lajoie surprised many at the beginning of the 2018-19 season and played in 56 games in his rookie year. Finally, Markus Nurmi was selected in the sixth round, and, like Burgess, remains unsigned.
2017: Dorion’s Second Shot
Pre-Draft Trade Impact
After Dorion had a full year as the general manager and the Senators were playing well, there were many moves made involving draft picks in order to bolster the lineup. There was also one change from the pre-Dorion era. From the Dion Phaneuf trade, the Senators sent their 2017 second-round pick to the Toronto Maple Leafs as part of a larger package.
Dorion sent the Senators 2017 fifth-round pick to the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for Mike Condon, their seventh-round pick as part of a package for Tommy Wingels from the San Jose Sharks and their third-round pick to the Carolina Hurricanes for Viktor Stalberg. He then received the Calgary Flames second-round pick in the Curtis Lazar deal.
2017 Draft Picks
Due to those trades, the 2017 draft saw Dorion with just four picks. It worked out well for the team, though, as it was a solid draft for them. In the first round, they selected Shane Bowers, a very promising centre, although he was sent to the Colorado Avalanche in the Matt Duchene trade just a few months later.
The next two picks look to be very important ones for the Senators. They selected Alex Formenton in the second round and Drake Batherson in the fourth. Both young players should become a part of the core of this team over the next few seasons. They are coming off of solid years that saw both of them spend brief stints in the NHL.
Formenton was sent back to the OHL’s London Knights where he has 34 points in 31 games, adding 18 points in 11 playoff games. Batherson had 22 goals and 62 points in 59 games with the AHL’s Senators, in his rookie campaign.
With their final pick in the draft, Dorion and company drafted Jordan Hollett, a goaltender from the WHL who the club never signed and will re-enter the draft in 2019.
2018: Dorion Settles In
Pre-Draft Trade Impact
The 2017-18 season didn’t go as planned for Dorion and the Senators, as the club finished 30th in the league. From this, the Senators retained a good amount of their picks.
From the trade to acquire Derick Brassard from the New York Rangers nearly two years prior, the Senators sent their own second-round pick and received the Rangers’ seventh. They then swapped picks again to send Brassard to the Pittsburgh Penguins, receiving a first and sending a third.
2018 Draft Picks
Dorion’s 2018 draft may have been his best, thanks to fourth overall pick Brady Tkachuk. Tkachuk made the Senators lineup right out of training camp and stuck with the club for the full season. He had a strong rookie campaign with 22 goals and 45 points through 71 games.
Tkachuk wasn’t the only first-round pick for the Senators in 2018, though. The club held the 22nd overall pick as well, but Dorion pulled the trigger on a deal with the Rangers for the 26th and 48th picks. The Rangers selected K’Andre Miller and the Senators selected Jacob Bernard-Docker at No. 26 and Jonathan Tychonick with the 48th selection.
Both Bernard-Docker and Tychonick play in the NCAA for the University of North Dakota where they just finished their rookie seasons. Bernard-Docker put up five goals and 17 points in 36 games and is looking extremely promising for the organization. Tychonick didn’t dive right in like his draft partner, getting four assists in 28 games.
In the fourth round, the Senators drafted Jonathan Gruden, who also made the jump to the NCAA this season after putting up 60 points in 61 games with the US National U18 Team. He played for Miami University, where he had 15 points in 38 games.
Angus Crookshank was selected in the fifth round, and so far, looks like he may be a steal with the 126th pick. Yet another NCAA rookie, Crookshank had 10 goals and 23 points in 36 games with the University of New Hampshire.
In the sixth round, the Senators opted for another goaltender in Kevin Mandolese. He remains unsigned at this point but is coming off of a 29-12-4 season with the QMJHL’s Cape Breton Screaming Eagles with a 2.87 goals-against average and .895 save percentage.
In the final round, the Senators selected twice and chose Jakov Novak and Luke Loheit. Novak played with Bentley University in the NCAA, collecting 15 points in 37 games. Loheit played in the BCHL with the Penticton Vees, with 24 points in 43 games.
Trends in Dorion’s Draft History
As mentioned at the start, through his time as the Senators general manager, Dorion has drafted 17 players. Of those, he’s has a few trends that can be seen with his picks. These trends could show up once again for the 2019 NHL Entry Draft.
First, Dorion has taken a big forward with his first selection in every year. Brown (6-foot-6), Bowers (6-foot-2) and Tkachuk (6-foot-3) are all big players, so it seems that he and the Senators like a certain type of player.
Dorion has drafted two goaltenders through his tenure in Hollett and Mandolese. Both were taken in the sixth round, so it’s arguable that you should expect the Senators to once again hold off on drafting a goalie before then, although highly-touted Spencer Knight could change that in 2019.
Finally, Dorion has never drafted in the third round. Whether this is just a coincidence that the Senators happened to have traded all of their third-round picks in his time, or he feels that the fourth round is just as safe as the third, in 2019 the Senators once again don’t have their own third-round pick. They do hold the Penguins’ third-rounder, though, so barring another trade, Dorion should get his first chance in the third round this year.
Starting out as an Ottawa Senators contributor for The Hockey Writers, Josh is now an editor and at-large contributor, focusing on prospects, the NHL Draft, hockey history, and breaking news stories.